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Superdry shares rise as Dunkerton intensifies campaign to return

Lauretta Roberts
28 December 2018

Shares in Superdry were one of the biggest risers on the Stock Exchange during early trading yesterday, increasing by 34p to 460p, as founder Julian Dunkerton prepares to do battle with its board over his bid to be reinstated.

Its share price had increased a further 8.8p to 468.8p this morning (28 December). However the shares had dropped on Christmas Eve as it emerged over the weekend that Dunkerton was attempting to call an extraordinary general meeting to formally ask shareholders to back his return.

Dunkerton has been campaigning to be reinstated since Superdry issued a profits warning in the early autumn saying its performance had been hit by unseasonably warm weather due to its reliance on outerwear sales and admitted issues with its product mix.

The company said it was seeking to reduce its product lines and subsequently announced the launch of childrenswear, both moves which Dunkerton opposes arguing it should be adding to its product lines and that childrenswear would discourage teenagers from shopping the brand.

Dunkerton co-founded Superdry 15 years ago with designer James Holder. Having build the business into a global lifestyle brand and floating it on the Stock Exchange, he handed over the CEO reins to Euan Sutherland in 2014. He left the business in March of this year saying he wanted to spend time pursuing other businesses and philanthropic interests but later said he resigned as he could not "put my name" to the brand's strategy.

Since the start of the year the brand's share price has been eroded by 80% and, after issuing a profits warning in October, it went on to report earlier this month that underlying profit before tax had fallen 49% to £12.9m in the 26 weeks to 27 October and it now expected profits in the current financial year to be somewhere between £55m and £70m. Analysts had predicted around £84m.

Dunkerton, who still owns 18% of the company, has been carrying out high profile media interviews and holding meetings with shareholders to outline his strategy, which Superdry chairman Peter Bamford has dismissed as not having evolved sufficiently to suit the needs of a global, digital-first retailer.

Part of Dunkerton's plan would be to have Bamford removed along with CEO Sutherland. In an interview just before Christmas with Sky News, he said that his reinstatement was the "only option" for the business. “The only option now is to bring me back and say ‘right, there has to be a strategic change’ and now is the moment,” he said.

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